Upscaled festival

Organisers of the flow Oistins Fish Festival are hoping they have found the perfect blend of new and heritage events to keep the 57-year-old community fiesta attractive for everyone.

Israel Mallett, one of three co-chairs with responsibility for marketing, told the DAILY NATION on Sunday they wanted to stay true to the festival and its long-time patrons, but also bring new people to enjoy what they had to offer.

He also made it clear Member of Parliament for Christ Church South Ralph Thorne, who left the ruling Barbados Labour Party last month and crossed the floor of Parliament to become Opposition Leader, is again scheduled to take part in the week’s activities.

Mallett said the festival, though supported by Government through the Divisions of Culture and Fisheries, was not driven by politics.

“The parliamentary representative, irrespective of their party, always play a role in the festival because it is their constituency. As a festival – I think this is key to remember – we seek to be as apolitical as possible and we work with whoever is there,” he explained.

“Oistins is a festival first and foremost for the community, to benefit the community, working with the community and to highlight the community. That remains our focus regardless of whatever else is happening in Barbados.”

When reached yesterday, Thorne confirmed he will be taking part in the festival, only adding that organisers will let him know exactly what role he will play.

In recent years, in addition to the greasy pole, net-throwing, dolphin-skinning and fish-boning competitions, organisers have added events such as Pan Riddim In De Bay, Soca In The Bay, Blessing In The Bay, Bead And Sip, Sea To Stove and Sip, Paint And Jazz.

“Each year we look to see what different, new events we can bring to revitalise the festival to make sure that we not just cater to the people who have been coming all these years, but look for things for the younger demographic as well,” Mallett said.

“Being there on the ground at the festival, we do have high numbers of people coming . . . . We keep our stalwart events that keep the culture connected to the community of Oistins, but we also look to see how we can improve, how we can do things differently, how we can add to the festival but still honour its culture and heritage.”

The other co-chairs are Nikita Gibson and Wendy Storey, with responsibility for logistics and culture, respectively.

The festival commenced on Sunday with a thanksgiving service at the Oistins Church of Christ. It will continue on Monday with a celebrity football match at Dover Playing Field from 7 p.m.

On Tuesday, the Harold Bernard St John Oistins Idea Lab will be aired on Starcom Network from 2:45 p.m. Mallett said over the years this had evolved from a lecture to more of a ‘TED Talk’ format.

He explained it explores topics that are beneficial to the community of Oistins. This year’s discussion is on improving vending, making it more sustainable and transitioning from cash to digital payments.

On Thursday will be the Celebrity Cook Off featuring Jermaine Coopa Dan Gittens, Paula Jackman and Christian Krishtun Gibbs.

The Oistins Parade and Opening Ceremony takes place on Saturday from 4 p.m. and Mallett said one of the stalwarts of the community will be honoured.

There will be a range of activities on Easter Sunday and the festival will climax Easter Monday with the popular greasy pole, dolphin-skinning and fish-boning contests, among other events. (SAT)

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